Marriage Between Believers and Unbelievers

When I was in grade school, my brother and I stayed up late on Friday nights to watch wrestling on TV. This was before color TV and the screen was filled with “snow.”

Nature Boy, before Rick Flair’s “Nature Boy,” was one of our favorites.

I had a chance to meet the Nature Boy of my childhood when I heard him preach in my late teens.

The original “Nature Boy,” Tommy Phelps, had a powerful story to tell. He was a rough, loud, and abusive husband.

He had no interest in following Jesus, even though his wife was a devoted Christian.

They constantly argued over her desire for him to know Jesus.

One day, the pastor of her church assembled a men’s prayer meeting for Tommy Phelps. At the same time, his wife was washing dishes, praying, and silently crying for her husband’s salvation.

Phelps saw his wife crying, cursed her, and told her to stop praying. He walked into the living room of their house and like Paul on the road to Damascus, was struck to the ground by the Holy Spirit.

When his wife saw what had happened to him, she called the pastor. The pastor, accompanied by the men’s group, came to the home and helped Tommy Phelps become a follower of Jesus.

As they say in the country, Phelps was “saved, called, and sent” at the same time. Shortly after his conversion, he became an effective evangelist.

Hope for Marriages

Paul wrote an encouraging word to Christians who were married to an unbelieving spouse.

1 Corinthians 7.12-16 To the rest I say—I and not the Lord—that if any believer has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her.

And if any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him.

For the unbelieving husband is made holy through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy through her husband. Otherwise, your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so; in such a case the brother or sister is not bound. It is to peace that God has called you.

Wife, for all you know, you might save your husband. Husband, for all you know, you might save your wife.

I could provide a list of names from Maywood Baptist Church of families where the husband and wife loved Jesus and transmitted that love to their children.

There are generations of children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren who have been blessed to be part of a family that is defined by following the attitudes and actions of Jesus.

On the other hand, I have seen too many cases where the husband and wife were divided. One was a believer and the other was an unbeliever. Often what happens is this:

Dilution – The faith of the believing spouse is diluted. The believer’s faith is compromised by the unbelief of their unbelieving spouse.

Confusion – The biggest losers in this situation are the children.

While one spouse has faith and the other doesn’t, the children frequently abandon trust in Jesus. They assume the attitudes and actions of the present world’s system.

Conflict – When two different sets of values attempt to influence a family, conflict is certain to result.

Tommy Phelps’ wife took inspiration from Paul’s teaching and so should we.

When believers are married to unbelievers, dilution and confusion do not have to be the result. Believers can stay strong in their convictions. Their stance will keep the children from confusion about the nature of God.

Prayer for Ukraine

Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10.10).

Paul wrote, “For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6.12).

The spiritual forces of evil are intent on the death and destruction of the Ukrainian people.

We can be confident that death and destruction are not the will of God.

Praying people are authorized to pray for life – the very life that Jesus came to give – to rule.

As we pray for the war in Ukraine, let’s ask God to enforce his will over the evil powers of darkness.

YouTube Video

Rudy Ross and I discuss this passage on YouTube today. Please join us on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.

Please email your prayer requests to or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.

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